Roto Riteup: March 28, 2019

Ladies and Gentlemen, the time has come!

On the Agenda:
1. Lindor Injury
2. Various News and Notes
3. Streaming Pitchers

Lindor Injury
Just when we thought Francisco Lindor was beginning to look ready for game action, we heard word of another injury coming into play:

This is obviously brutal news for Lindor, the Indians, and fantasy owners. He was going about 20th overall in almost 40 Main Event NFBC leagues prior to this, and was looking well on his way to contributing in early-April as well. There hasn’t been a concrete timetable available as of yet, but late-April to early-May has to be the best-case scenario at the moment. The good news is fantasy owners were already expecting Lindor to be out to start the season, so hopefully there was a stopgap option already implemented in your draft strategy. I was already downgrading Lindor’s speed coming into the season based on the calf ailment, but now we have to be even more cautious on that front. He should come back and continue to rake like normal, but fantasy owners will have to make due for at least a little while. It looks like Eric Stamets will man shortstop in Lindor’s place for the time being.

Various News and Notes
Kendrys Morales was traded to the Oakland Athletics in exchange for infield prospect Jesus Lopez and international signing bonus pool space. Lopez is projected to be a utility player and is not fantasy relevant. Morales will take over first base in the wake of Matt Olson’s hand injury. He was a solid late round pick and this makes his fantasy stock rise a bit since Oakland has a better lineup than Toronto. Sure, O.co doesn’t have the best Park Factors, but Rodgers Centre plays neutral and Morales has close to identical Home/Road splits throughout his career. Some other ripple effects of the trade include Franklin Barreto likely starting the year in Triple-A, and Anthony Alford getting the opportunity to begin the year in the majors as well. Personally, I think this is better news for a guy like Billy McKinney, who should get the majority of at-bats against RHP – at least to start the year.

Peter Alonso made the Mets Opening Day roster and is expected to hit second today against Max Scherzer. The power is legit, but we’ll see some struggles with BA as he adjusts to MLB pitching. With that said, if you’re in a shallow format, Alonso should be owned if he isn’t already.
Justin Upton is suffering from a bout with turf toe and will begin the season on the injured list. It’s not expected to be a long stay, but fantasy owners should keep close tabs on this as Upton hasn’t been fully healthy for a while now. The Angels fallback options here are not worth speculating on as of now. They could seriously be using either newly acquired outfielder Brian Goodwin or Peter Bourjos in left field on Opening Day.

According to Mariners manager Scott Servais, Mallex Smith will start in center field on Opening Day against the Red Sox. He’s been nursing an elbow injury and has only played in an exhibition game this spring. He’ll be a strong source of runs and stolen bases since he’ll likely hit atop the Mariners lineup against RHP, maybe even against southpaws too.

Jesse Winker is leading off against Jameson Taillon and the Pirates on Opening Day. This is a welcomed sign, especially in OBP formats since Winker is one of the most polished young hitters in the game. 2019 could be a breakout season for the 25-year old.

Greg Bird will start at first base against Andrew Cashner and the Orioles on Opening Day, with Luke Voit filling the DH role. As of now, both will receive a good amount of playing time. We’ll see how things shake out when Aaron Hicks returns, but my money is on Voit winning out here. For what it’s worth, Hicks hasn’t begun any baseball activities as of yet, so we may get a decent sample before any decisions need to be made.

Hanley Ramirez has won a spot on the Indians Opening Day roster – serving as DH. He’s a “watch list” player for deeper formats at best right now.

My “fantasy kryptonite” Gregory Polanco played five innings in a simulate game on Wednesday.

He went at an extremely discounted rate in drafts, and the skills are still there for him to be a top-3 round player if things break right. Yes, he’s been an injured disappointment in many ways the last couple of years, but if he’s back in late-April, early-May – sign me up.

 

Streaming Pitchers
A Pitcher for Today: Marcus Stroman vs DET
He’s just under my 30% barometer for picking streamers, but the matchup is fairly good to start the year. In his career he’s been a much better pitcher at home (3.45 ERA) than on the road (4.48 ERA), but we still have a good amount of risk here based on his performance last season.

High-Risk Option: Brad Keller vs CWS
He’s in a favorable ballpark and facing a team that was 23rd in wRC+ against RHP last season. With that said it’s a new year, and the Sox have Eloy and Yonder Alonso added to the offense. In 7 G (4 GS) against them last year he posted a 3.75 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 8.6 K/9, and 3.4 BB/9. Could be worth a flier here.

 

A Pitcher for Tomorrow: None

High-Risk Option: Matt Harvey at OAK
Well, it wasn’t an awesome spring and it’s certainly been a trying couple of years, but in a good venue against an offense that can lose its luster at times, maybe we can roll the dice here? His second half numbers were solid, his velocity continues to sit mid-90’s, maybe we can get a decent start here. In deep leagues I’m in to see what happens.

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Fantasy Baseball and Tampa Bay Rays enthusiast. Restaurant manager by day, fantasy analyst by night. Contributor to Rotographs, Baseball HQ, Fantasy Pros, and co-owner of Friends with Fantasy Benefits. Follow me @MikeWernerFWFB.

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Voit is batting 4th today, and Bird 7th. I don’t think the lineup will look the same 2 weeks from now (regardless of the Hicks situation), but Boone is making it quite clear which player he thinks is the better hitter.

For what it’s worth, I expect that the lineup will be Hicks-Judge-Stanton-Sanchez-Andujar-…. by the end of April.